I was told (a long time ago) that our Hakka family Style of Longfist may well have a 'Chaquan' component within it. Certainly, the movements contained in the clip below are similar - or identical in application - but I think our Longfist is older than the arrival of Arabs in China and it is more likely that these Merchants 'borrowed' from our Style rather than the other way around. It is a matter of working-out the logical 'chain of evidence':
This is a Norhern Style historically associated with the 'Hui' Muslims living in China - the descendants of Arab (Turkic) Merchants who stayed in China and married Chinese women around a thousand years ago. I suspect these men (and their descendants) constructed this Style using common Longfist techniques. This variant is termed 'Yanzhou' - which I assume is a geographical location in Shandong. The name may mean 'Investigate' or 'Learned Fist' (perhaps in the context of 'Knowledgeable Boxing') - depending upon how '查' (cha2) is pronounced. When written as '楂' (cha2) - it refers to a 'wooden raft' - perhaps used in 'travelling' and 'trading'! Finally, although I have no evidence of this myself, I was told that 'Cha' might be a Chinese language transliteration of the (Turkic-Mongolian) term 'Khan'.
I have been looking through the Chinese language internet for 'Ju Jitsu' (or 'Jiu Jitsu') information and found a very good historical article which I have fed through a universal translator:
The early history of Ju Jitsu (Rou Shu) - or 'Giving-Way Art' is described as follows (I have translated this extract exactly):
'The origins of Ju-Jitsu can be traced back to around 2000 BCE (in Egypt). There are hundreds of murals in the famous Khufu Pyramid in Egypt depicting Ju Jitsu-type combat techniques. These North African martial arts techniques appear very similar to modern-day Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. The combat techniques that define Ju Jitsu are found (today) throughout the world within the traditional fighting systems of China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Russia and Mesopotamian, etc. Some scholars speculate that Asian Ju-Jitsu developed separately (and parallel) to its African variant - and is a martial art that originated in ancient India. This Indian martial art then spread to China - where it was consolidated - before being spread across the world by migrating monks and soldiers. It is currently unknown whether there is a direct link between the Egyptian and Asian variants.'
During a two-week visit to Hong Kong and the New Territories during February 1999 - which included a visit to the 'Chan' (陳) ancestral village in the Sai Kung area of the New Territories (as well as a trip over into Shenzhen to visit other relatives), I engaged in the usual gongfu activity of 'Form Swapping' with any other interested parties. Chinese gongfu Forms are like a form of cultural currency that involves a 'sharing' process which develops the over-all understanding of China's martial heritage of each individual involved! It is not that these 'new' or 'unfamiliar' styles are necessarily integrated into existing styles, systems and schools (although sometimes they are), but rather that practitioners of a certain level of attainment possess the ability to 'look beyond' and 'see through' the usual stylistic barriers that usually 'separate' and 'define' martial traditions! Indeed, as Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) has a good reputation in the area, I was approached by various individuals to 'share' a gongfu Form over a friendly cup of tea! One such individual belonged to the now very affluent and exclusive 'Beggars and Wanderers Society' who offered to exchange one of our Longfist Forms for a Tiger and an Arahant Form preserved in their tradition. The members of this Society used to walk the roads of ancient China 'stealing' or 'borrowing' the gongfu Forms of local gongfu schools and passing these systems around, through and into places the population of which would usually not have encountered these types or sets of movements.
These 'Beggars' were also tough and developed these Forms through the practicality of having to fight for their survival! Today, however, this Society is now comprised of families that have done well for themselves in business, and which form a type of 'Guild' around the fact that a distant relative was once a wandering beggar - similar to an itinerant Buddhist monk - but without the support of the establishment! Travelling from place to place, and penetrating the clans and social systems of other places was a highly unusual pastime during feudal China - where China was controlled within the empire through a stringent conservativism where every household, community and area was expected to be an exact copy of the imperial house! Moving 'between' communities was viewed as being strictly unnecessary unless there was a good reason for it - but 'Beggars' often possessed the ability to move in and out of places 'unnoticed' and 'unhindered' providing they did not draw attention to themselves. This is how they 'acquired' their extensive martial knowledge - which is said to cover 'Northern' and 'Southern' fighting styles in equal measure! The style featured on this post is said to be a mixture of 'Northern' and 'Southern' styles and is termed '羅漢十八摩' (Luo Han Shi Ba Mo) or unusually' 'Arahant Eighteen Abilities of Touch'!
The use of the ideogram '摩' (mo2) is interesting - particularly as it seems to be replacing the more familiar '拳' (quan2) which denotes a closed fist. The ideogram '摩' (mo2) is comprised of:
Upper Particle - 厂 (han2) = 'Cliff'
Middle Particle - 𣏟 (pai4) = 'Hemp' or 'Linen'
Lower Particle - 手 (shou3) = 'Open-Hand'
Therefore, the use of '摩' (mo2) might denote the 'careful' and 'gentle' plucking or picking of plants from the edge of a cliff - a dangerous activity that requires skill, timing and precise movement. Indeed, this leads to the other meaning of '摩' (mo2) which is to 'study' so that the 'touch' of the individual becomes highly skilled and yet free of all malice. As this style is said to have been developed by Chinese Buddhist monastics (possibly premised upon Indian Buddhist prototypes) - it is more than likely that the use of '摩' (mo2) signifies the non-presence of greed, hatred and delusion, the three taints all Buddhist practitioners are expected to 'uproot' through hours of seated meditation and the behaviour modification enforced through stringent (Vinaya) self-discipline! I suspect this indicates that this style of 'Arahant' self-defence preserves an older naming system. The arrangement of the ideograms seem to suggest that there are 'Eighteen' fighting techniques the 'Arahants' are expected to 'Study' if the sentence is read from left to right (which I am assuming). If the arrangement is meant to read right to left, then we have 'Study Eighteen Arahants'. Whatever the case, it is more usual today to place the number 'Eighteen' BEFORE the word 'Arahant' (十八羅漢). It seems that the use of the ideogram '摩' (mo2) suggests methods whereby the Buddhist monastics emulate the techniques of 'closing the distance' between themselves and their opponent - without involving any malice of fore-thought!
Translator's Note: Chinese martial arts are diverse in origination and influence. Although a broad designation of 'North' and 'South' can be made on the grounds of the geographical origination of the Founding Masters, and certain defining characteristics - a fighting style above all was premised upon its effectiveness in combat and there was little room for sentiment or an attachment to dogma! As a consequence, and despite the truth in the 'North' and 'South' designation, there are Southern styles that look Northern and their are Northern styles that appear Southern - and this to be expected considering the human propensity for adaptation! Furthermore, cross-fertilisation led to many hybrid styles and an outpouring of diverse variations - a phenomenon that is very much the norm within modern China! ACW (5.8.2022)
The term ‘idiom’ is from the Greek (and Late Latin) word ‘idioma’ - and was prevalent from the 1580s onward – where it refers to a ‘form of speech peculiar to a people or place’. Originating from the Greek word ‘idioumai’ (to appropriate to oneself) from ‘idios’ (personal and private, properly particular to oneself). The use of an ‘idiom’ involves a highly condensed (or contracted) linguistic expression which conveys far more in suggestion (or implication) than literally contained the few words used. As a rule, the meaning of an ‘idiom’ is culturally derived (and passed on from one generation to the next) as an important (and ‘underlying’) element of culturally conditioned education. As an expression, the meaning contained within an idiom is not predictable from the grammar or language used and cannot be easily ‘guessed’ by an individual who has not been privy to the relevant education.
Chinese Language Idiom: 南船北马
南 = (nan2) - South
船 = (chuan2) Boat
北 = (bei3) - North
马 = (ma3) - Horse
English Translation: ‘Southern Boat – Northern Horse’
Chinese Language Origin:
English Translation: Tang Dynasty Poet - Meng Jiao [孟郊] (751-814) - deriving from a phrase written in his book entitled ‘Journeying Together Expert Study Book Defining South Return’.
Meng Jiao was a famous Tang Dynasty poet who recorded his return journey beginning in the Northern Tang Dynasty capital of ‘Chang’an’ (Xi’an) to the Southern areas of China. He observed that the difference in terrain between North China and South China was so stark that it effectively altered the physique, psychology and everyday culture of the respective populations! This was best seen in the trade routes (or the commercial arteries) that saw the transportation of goods and produce throughout and around China. Within North China the mountainous terrain led to horse-reliant cultures developing (including the necessary horse husbandry) - whilst in the South the extensive waterways were best navigated using all types and sizes of boats (which they designed and built after harvesting wood cultivated from sustainable forests, etc). This separation in culture led to very different sets of skills being developed with Northerners being good at carrying heavy weights on their back whilst running or walking up and down steep inclines in all kinds of weather – whilst Southerns were good at swimming, diving, and maintaining their balance when stood on the deck of a boat in all kinds of weather! In turns, these indifferences were expressed in the martial systems developed in each region – which were an expression (or extension) of the already existing strengths and skills extant within the populations – with specialities extending out from these representations. A Northern Horse Stance, for instance is two shoulder widths apart with the upper thighs parallel to the floor and the knees directly covering the feet (with a 90-degree angle between the upper thigh and lower leg). This martial skill derived from riding a horse (or Steppe pony) without stirrups – where the rider had to grip the rotund belly of the animal and steer the horse by pivoting the pelvic girdle left, right and centre. This develops tremendous supporting strength in the lower part of the body. The Southern equivalent assumes an individual is stood on a small boat with the feet shoulder width apart and the knees slightly bent. Balance is retained through the expert transference and interchange of the bodyweight between the legs – with the bodyweight dropping down the centre of the bones into the floor of the boat and into the water the boat is floating within (although not all Southern stances are 'narrow' or 'high').
Nowadays, with the modernisation of China, many martial arts styles have ‘mixed’ and ‘combined’ their respective strengths, thus creating an all-round and vigorous fighting style. Even Chinese martial arts exported to Ryukyu in the 19th century – such as Yongchun White Crane Fist – was mixed with Okinawan ‘Te’ by Higaonna Kanryo (1853-1915) and later developed by his key disciple Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953) into the world famous Goju Ryu Karate-Do! From the Katas movements contained within Goju Ryu, there appears a very strong ‘Southern Fist’ (南拳 - Nan Quan) influence – but some of these movements appear ‘Northern’ in origination! This could well have been the product of Northern stylists either bringing or transmitting their fighting styles southward. Despite geographical differences persisting in China, the development and spread of modern technology has negated these differences and made everyday life very similar for most people. Therefore, the differences within traditional Chinese martial arts styles are ‘historical’ and must be protected and preserved for future generations to benefit from. Even considering the development of sports science – traditional Chinese martial arts still have a tremendous amount to offer as regards the psychological, physical and spiritual development of an individual! This is because the Chinese ancestors were very clever when adapting to their physical conditions and recording those adaptations!
Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do Retains Characteristics of Both 'Northern' and 'Southern' Style of Chinese Martial Arts!
Chinese Language Sources:
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.